The funny thing about this guy is that he illustrates how vastly out of touch I’ve become with modern pop/rock music. This man has been around since 2011. He released his major-label debut album PLUS, which had 6 hit singles, went double platinum here in the U.S., seven times platinum in his native U.K., and gold or multi-platinum in 12 other nations. And since then his career has been going on a direct upward trajectory.
He was picked as the opening act for my favorite former Country singer Taylor Swift on her worldwide tour in 2013, they also collaborated on a hit song. His next full album MULTIPLY, released in 2014, sold over twice as much as the first one worldwide, with 5 hit singles. And he won two Grammy’s in 2016.
And yet I never heard of him until this past February.
If, before then, you put a gun to my head and asked me to identify him, to pick him out of a line-up, or even name one song of his, I couldn’t have done it.
Seriously, I know I’m getting old, but damn. It’s weird to see that someone could reach this level of fame, and still be under my radar. The truth is that I pretty much never listen to the radio anymore. At least not on purpose. I don’t have a radio at home, or in my car (it was old, so I tossed it when I got the car, and never got around to replacing it). Now I just listen to music I already have. My iTunes playlists are mostly hits from the 80’s and 90’s. So I only really hear the radio when I’m riding in Uber or Lyft. There are have been a few times where there’s some new song playing that I never heard of, but like, and I’ll look up that song online. That’s generally how I discover new music these days. And that’s sort of what happened here.
Last April I noticed in some of the TV commercials for the then-upcoming new series THE ARRANGEMENT, on the E Channel, . there was a song playing in the background, and I liked the melody, so I looked the commercial up on Youtube (I can’t seem to find it now), and I don’t if it listed the song in the credits or if I just listened and then searched the lyrics, but either way that then lead me to the song, “SHAPE OF YOU”, which I also found on Youtube.
Funny little video. I couldn’t help but notice that this White man cast a Woman of Color as his love interest in this, which I thought was cool. But, damn, this song just hooked me. The melody, the chorus, the beat. You know how when you get hooked on a new song and just play all the time, over and over again? Yeah, that was me with this song for like, the next 3 months. I don’t play it as much now, I still love it!
It is weird though how now, suddenly, it seems like I’m constantly hearing about him. Even though I’m not actively searching for info about him, he’s just everywhere.
Shape of You was the second release from his newest full album DIVIDE (I’m starting to notice a pattern here…), which was released in March and has proceed to blow up on the worldwide charts, like his previous efforts. I saw wildly shared articles that stated that Sheeran has a “toxic masculinity” problem, which sparked much online debate, with others stating that no he does not have a “toxic masculinity” problem or that what he has is an “everyman” problem.
If you ask me, this just shows that how huge he’s gotten, as it’s a predictable consequence of fame. The bigger you are, the more everything about you gets scrutinized.
There was also the incident where he voluntarily added Real Housewife of Atlanta Kandi Burruss, and two other people, as co-writers of Shape of You, based on it’s “similarity” to their song “NO SCRUBS” which was a hit for R&B group TLC in 1999.
Listening to the song, I can hear the similarity between the bridge to Shape of You (“boy, let’s not talk too much, grab on your put that body on me”) and the chorus of No Scrub (“I don’t want no scrubs, a scrub is a guy that gets no love from me”). It’s slight, but it’s there. But it’s slight enough that I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t intentionally steal it, it’s likely a coincidence, or perhaps that melody was in the back of his head (he was only 6, when No Scrubs was released), and he didn’t realize it as he was writing it?
Although if he did steal it, he’d hardly be the first successful act that’s stolen it’s biggest hit. Many now ICONIC musicians have been accused of the same thing. Read HERE, HERE, and HERE for more on that.
But, anyway, I know I’m out of touch. A few months I remember reading some article that referred to THE GAME as a “veteran rapper,” and I was like, veteran?!? I still think of him as that “new young rapper.” His 2nd album, The Doctor’s Advocate, was one of that last rap albums that I bought on CD (for some reason, I was a late-comer to switching to digital music), but then I realized that came out 11 years ago. Game is 37 now, I guess he is a veteran. Funny how time flies, eh?